TIMOR L'ESTE: by Fr Marcos de Oliveira SDBNews Weekly
Looming food shortage in East Timor
, June 28, 2003
Fr Marcos de Oliveira, an East Timorese priest, is appealing for assistance to provide urgently needed food for children attending the 45 schools in his parish.
"There are a large number of students in our schools who don't have breakfast or lunch," Fr Marcos said. "Initially, I would like to be able to give them one meal a day at school.
"It is my dream to provide each school with gardening implements and seed to enable the children to grow their own vegetables and fruit trees," he added.
According to the United Nations, East Timor is facing a severe food deficit with at least one in every six people not having enough to eat.
A two-year drought, subsistence farming and a depleted fishing fleet have contributed to the food shortage.
Starving East Timorese may be forced to eat rats, cats and dogs unless they receive food aid within six months, The Australian
newspaper reported on June 6.
Fr Marcos said that within the Laga parish, there are 50 orphans, many poor widows and a large number of mothers in need of help to feed their children.
"Our needs are great. I'm very grateful to the generous people in Australia who have helped us this year," Fr Marcos said. "We don't have regular income. We need money ... we are relying on Divine Providence," he said.Donations to assist Fr Marcos' food program in Laga can be sent to:
Salesian Mission Office
PO Box 80
Oakleigh VIC 3166
(Donations are tax deductible.)